Growing up – I lived off of four food groups: pizza, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and ice cream. My mom has never been an adventurous eater (she’s the woman ordering Thousand Island dressing at a five-star restaurant) and my dad was a professional chef for more than ten years. So I grew up with a lot of conflicting arguments about what to eat. My mom would just be happy if I ate Hamburger Helper since I was such a pain in the ass to deal with and my dad would pull out his hair hoping the day would come when his daughter would branch out from overly processed foods and dive into the culinary world of possibility. After years of trying, it was safe to say my dad eventually gave up hope and doomed the rest of my future to the blue boxes of Kraft and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.
Slowly but surely however I began to grow more curious about what food could offer and I started branching out but still staying in my comfort zone of what I knew – Italian food. Sundried tomatoes replaced ketchup, prosciutto took the place of bologna and I finally found some green on my plate in the form of basil. I was proud of myself but at the age of 23, I realized my knowledge of food was still pretty limited in scope. The only Mexican food I had ever tried was salsa and quesadillas, I considered French food wine and macarons and I had never even tried a single bite of Chinese.
Which is why I put try a new cuisine I’ve been too afraid to try on the 213 in 2013 list. And to be honest, it wasn’t one of the things I was most excited to cross off. I already feel uneasy about whenever I get out of my comfort zone, and typically I like to leave my taste buds out of any new adventures I decide to embark on. So on Sunday, I decided Mike and I were going to use a Groupon and check out Thai food – a first for the both of us. I had every intention of going, even though I couldn’t understand 90% of the menu and the parts that I did made my gag reflex act up. But I wanted to jump into this culinary adventure head first and thought, what’s more adventurous than Thai?
But to my surprise – the man who eats anything and everything – and I literally mean ANYTHING, was too afraid to go. And I quote, Mike’s reaction to my plans: “Uhm… gross.” Suddenly I began to doubt if I was capable of going through with it. I mean, if he couldn’t do it – there’s no way I could. That’s when he suggested Chinese. He called it “a way to get my feet wet instead of diving into the deep end without knowing how to swim.” I know that was really just code for “I really want Chinese and need an excuse to get it.”
So I figured what the hell, I’ve gone my entire life too afraid to try it despite friends and family members telling me I was crazy to live life without experiencing such deliciousness. I left the ordering to him since I was clueless as to what I’d like – my only rule: get chicken. So he ordered a spring roll, teriyaki chicken skewers, general tsos and lo mein. Twenty minutes later the delivery man showed up and my livingroom smelled like the streets of Chinatown.
He opened up the containers. Everything was brown. It looked so ugly and monochromatic and I thought “there’s no way in hell I’m going to like this.” But he looked so excited (and nervous I might add) for me to try everything so I grabbed the fork and tentatively grabbed a piece of chicken with some lo mein.
Here goes nothing.
I winced as I started to chew, expecting for it to taste as awful as it looked but to my complete and utter surprise and amazement, it tasted absolutely delicious. I started taking bites out of everything. Oh there’s cabbage in this spring roll? Well, it’s delicious! Teriyaki sauce? Where have you been all my life!? My eyes grew larger as I started scarfing down anything I could get my hands on. While I was completely over the moon with how happy I was to discover a new type of cuisine that I enjoy, I also felt a pang of regret for going more than 20 years without realizing it, all because I was too afraid to try.
This project is making me realize very quickly that you can miss out of some of life’s greatest pleasures if you live in fear. Whether it’s as something as small as trying a new type of cuisine or taking a leap of faith and jumping out of an airplane (stay tuned for April!), you can never know all that life has to offer unless you give it a try.